Monday, September 15, 2008

BITE OF THE DAY - 9/15/2008 - The Lower East Side Pickle

What better way to kick off my brand new Bite of the Day series than with one of my favorite bites of all time...PICKLES.

Yesterday, I made it down to the city's annual Pickle Festival on Orchard Street on the Lower East Side. Though the face of this once bustling Jewish neighborhood has undoubtedly changed over the years, its rich cultural history lives on, if nowhere else, than in its perfectly prepared pickles.

This being my first time at this pre-meditated pickle party, I was amazed at how many people had come out to savor the salty simplicity of good old-fashioned, barrel-borne pickle. Then again, isn't that what I was doing?

The tents comprised an impressive selection of pickled good from vendors hailing from as far as Detroit and as near as Brooklyn. Of course, home town favorites Guss' and the Pickle Guys' stands enjoyed the biggest pull, there were certainly great products to be had at every tent. I sampled everything I could get my hands on, even some pickled grapes which were curiously difficult to stop eating.

At this pickle premier, Best in Show goes to the Kosher Dill variety from the Horman's Pickle Stand (Below). Sold right from the barrel on the street and shoved swiftly on a stick for easy consumption, this was probably THE BEST pickle I've ever had (and the first one I've ever eaten off of a stick).

This brined behemoth was crunchy and taught on the outside while bursting with juicy tenderness on the inside. This pickle was perfect.

Pining for more, we avoided the line at its festival stand, and instead walked a block east to the Pickle Guys on Essex St where for another $2, we picked up their half sour, 3/4 sour, and full-sour versions (below): The half-sour (upper right), the youngest of the bunch, and also the crunchiest, was obviously the least pickle-tasting, clinging dearly to its cucumber roots, snapping loudly as you bite into it.

The 3/4 sour (upper left), having spent marginally more time in the brine, was al dente in the bite, and just beginning to soften in the middle.

Finally the full-sour (middle bottom) represented the quintessential pickle as we know it; moss green, bumpy on the outside, and soft and almost translucent in the middle. This was my favorite of the three. Functions like the Pickle Festival are yet another reason why I love living and eating in New York. Food isn't only part of life here, it is IS life. It certainly is for me..

I encourage everyone to get out and eat more pickles, and although you'll have to wait another year to check out the LES' Pickle Festival, I implore you make the trip to Guss' and The Pickle Guys to reacquaint yourself with one of the most refreshing, most satsifying food there is.

Isn't it better to eat a pickle than to be in one?

1 comment:

neil.tenzer said...

Oh Vinny loves getting his hands and mouth on a thick turgid pickle! Waiting to hear about Green Bo. . .